| October 31, 2004 -- CropChoice
news -- Sean Pratt, producer.com, 10/28/04: After numerous
delays, a court case pitting organic growers against biotechnology
firms has been scheduled for next month.
Larry Hoffman, L.B. Hoffman Farms Inc. and Dale Beaudoin filed
the original statement of claim nearly three years ago on Jan. 10,
It alleges the organic growers have suffered financial losses due
to the introduction of genetically modified canola by Monsanto Canada
and Bayer CropScience.
The growers who filed the claim want to open the case so any Saskatchewan
organic farmer certified after Jan. 1, 1996, can seek damages from
the two biotech firms.
On Nov. 1-2, lawyers for both sides are expected to appear in Saskatoon's
Court of Queen's Bench where they'll argue whether there are grounds
for the case to proceed as a class action lawsuit.
Counsel for Monsanto is expected to argue the case does not meet
the five criteria required for certification under the Class Actions
Act and should be dismissed.
"We believe groups such as the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate,
Greenpeace and the British Soils Association are simply using this
lawsuit as a platform to advance their anti-GMO position in the
public arena and this is not an appropriate use of the court's time
and resources," said Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan.
Arnold Taylor, president of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate,
the group co-ordinating the class action suit, said while the groups
may share the same beliefs on GM canola, SOD hasn't received direct
funding from Greenpeace or the British Soils Association.
"We're representing 1,000 hard-working certified organic farmers
who have real concerns about the fact that we can't buy canola seed
without GMO contamination."
While the two sides are exchanging public barbs via the media,
the plaintiffs' claims will not be debated at the certification
hearing, which is a procedural inquiry to see if the case deserves
to be tried as a class action suit.
The hearing was previously scheduled for September but was delayed
at the last minute until Nov. 1-2.